Monday, 5 December 2011

Boozy Sunday Tea Party

So for my friend's birthday, she decided she wanted a boozy tea party - ooh yeah, I like it already. So I wanted to make it something more than the usual tea party.. a concoction of gin and tonic and sambuca cupcakes, something you can eat EVEN with a hangover, which we did!!

I think these are actually best eaten the day after they have been made as the alcohol has really settled into the cake and you get the full flavour, but still tasty on the day they're made!

Perfect hangover cure

Ingredients for gin and tonic cupcakes:-

115g butter
130g castor sugar
3 eggs
195g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
40ml Gordons gin
20ml tonic water


Preheat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4.
Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.

Using an electric beater or whisk, beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy and the sugar and butter lighten in colour. Add the eggs, one at a time beating quite thoroughly after each addition.

In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder and salt and add half of this to the egg mixture. Beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pour in half the tonic water. Beat again until combined and repeat the flour and use the gin until finished, alternating between the two.

Immediately, fill the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 mins. Don't forget to rotate the tray about half way through if you have a gas oven, to ensure evenly cooked.

You should have enough mixture to make 24 small-ish cupcakes or 20 decent sized cupcakes.

Remove from oven and leave in tray for a few minutes. Remove and then place cupcakes on a wire rack to cool. Don’t forget to remove from the muffin tray!

1st birthday duck and flower chocolate cupcakes

Ok, so its not every day your boss - a senior partner in a firm asks you to make cupcakes for his daughter's first birthday, so naturally I was over the moon excited as they chose my cupcakes over a well known bakery in London! The brief was ducks and flowers, which personally I thought is just too cute!

Bubble bath duckies

The cupcakes are chocolate but with vanilla icing in a variety of colours. For the fondant icing, you can purchase a box of multicolour fondant icing which makes life so much easier, or you can use white and use food colouring to create your own variety, for this I used purple!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Coffee macarons with salted caramel

The first time I tried to make macarons, I had a bit of a disappointing effort, but they sure did taste lovely though, they just didnt resemble proper macarons. But one of my favourite blogs Baking=Love had this recipe, so I just had to try it!

So now, when I made these and the little feet formed - I did a little ceremonial dance around the kitchen, jumping for joy. On my second attempt I have proper macarons, go me!

I've heard so much about salted caramel recently and I wanted to try it myself at home and I'm glad I did, because it is extremely moreish. I was quite upset that there was none left over after sandwiching the macarons together :-(

Halloween cookies and cupcakes

So I couldn't decide whether to make cupcakes or cookies for halloween, then I thought I'd meet halfway, somewhere between a cookie and a cake!

I must admit this idea of mine (although great) did actually take ages to make partly because of the stencils I used - next time I might just get the right cookie cutters. Also, I was trying to aim for black cupcakes, but came out grey, but I have to admit the grey works so much better. It looks wrong to eat something so grey, but it tastes just as yummy!

I've not really done much for Halloween in the past few years, so I wanted to do something this year; like carve a pumpkin! Alas, I just didn't find the time, but I salute all those who did make pumpkins...

'Wear It Pink' ribbon cookies and cupcakes in aid of breast cancer campaign

I don't really care for pink, I'm more into darker colours like black and purple - but this was for a good cause, so i thought, heck why not. So instead of wearing a pink cardigan or shirt like everyone else, I wore pink floral tights and black shirt and skirt, ha!

I thought I'd get involved this year - I did the 'Race for Life' like erm.. a few good years ago, so this is my contribution to fighting cancer - with cupcakes and cookies!

I don't have a proper ribbon cookie cutter, but its quite easy to make a stencil and just use that to cut around the cookie dough. But it does take aaages! That's dedication or so I've been told...

I could have used the standard sugar cookie recipe, but I wanted these to be crisp and crunchy and also because the royal icing on these cookies can make the sugar cookies a bit soft, which you don't really want. I had lots of fun with these as you can see...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Chilli chocolate cupcakes

A red plate for red hot chilli peppers - nah not really..
I've wanted to make these cupcakes for a while now as I am quite fond of chilli; obviously in small doses. I'm not one for the extreme fiery heat of the chilli where you can't feel your tongue afterwards, but just that gentle warmth and aftertaste, where you know you've actually eaten chilli. Combine this with chocolate and you get a sweet cocoa flavour with a slight kick, not overpowering at all.  And being autumn / winter and all, chilli will help to keep the flu bugs away (hopefully).

I had so much fun making these little cupcakes. I bought some fondant icing - yeah, no way am I making that stuff up from scratch - The great thing was there were 5 colours in a box, all ready for me to play with. Seriously, it's just like playdough and you can create whatever takes your fancy, depends on how creative you want to be. I think I'm going to have a little play around and see what else I can make..

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Caribbean Coconut and Raisin cookies

These are probably just the quickest and easiest cookies to make - ideal for when you just want something pronto to nibble after dinner. The great thing about this recipe is that you can vary the ingredients, substitute cranberries instead of raisins, or ginger, chocolate, pecan nuts, pistachio nuts, the list goes on!

Crispy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside..
175g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
125g butter
85g brown sugar
55g castor sugar
1 egg
100g raisins
75g dessicated coconut
1/2 tsp rum flavouring optional


Preheat oven to 190 C or gas mark 5.
Grease and lightly flour baking trays.

Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre and add the egg. Whisk together until forms a soft dough.

Place teaspoonsful of mixture onto prepared baking trays and bake for 8-10 minutes.

I was too busy eating first and second batch, I left batch 3 in too long!

Leave to cool on tray for a few minutes and then move to cooling rack.

Makes about 30 cookies, but they're so more-ish it won't feel like it!  Best eaten whilst still warm and with a cup of tea.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Chocolate Orange Whoopie Pies

It's not Terry's, it's mine!

The whoopie pie - is it a biscuit or a cake? When I took these into work, the first question everyone asked was, 'What's a Whoopie Pie'? Hmm, its pretty much inbetween a cookie and a cake.... a slightly hard exterior and soft cake-like interior. The best thing is that they're quite small, so you don't feel you are indulging too much. They're typically American, but becoming more common in the UK as with macarons but I don't think they're going to replace the faithful cupcake just yet...

Ingredients for the whoopie pies:-

250g plain flour
1 tsp bicarb of soda

1/2 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter
200g sugar
1 large egg
5tblsp cocoa powder
juice and rind of half an orange


Preheat oven to 180°C or gas mark 4.

Line two trays with baking or greaseproof paper.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add the grated rind of one orange, being careful not to add the white pithy bits, this doesn't taste pleasant.
Measure the orange juice and buttermilk into a jug and then add half of it to the butter mixture. Slowly add dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Add the remaining buttermilk. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Note: if you don't have buttermilk, you can make it yourself, one tsp lemon juice for every 100ml milk. Leave to sit for about 5-10 mins et voila!

Use a teaspoon or if you have a 4cm ice cream scoop with a trigger (for large whoopies) or a mini scoop or melon-baller (for small whoopies), well, aren't you lucky. One teaspoon full is enough for the smaller pies, thats what I used. Portion out the batter about 5cm apart onto the prepared baking trays.

No rude remarks please!

Bake for on the top shelf for 10–12 minutes. You can tell they are ready when the touch of a finger leaves a slight depression in the cake.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

For the buttercream filling:-

75g butter
150g icing sugar
juice and rind of half an orange

Trying to do the presentation thingy #winning?

Decorate with dusted icing sugar.

Enjoy these very more-ish little treats!
Beat together the icing sugar and butter and add slowly the juice of one orange and add the rind. Spread a generous scoop of buttercream filling on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie. You could also add the icing on the top of the whoopie pie, but I think that's a bit overkill.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Homemade Custard Creams

The beloved custard cream - a very typically British biscuit that is an all time favourite, with its identifiable ornate design and shape. Apparently this biscuit is so adored, it was voted Britain's favourite biscuit in a recent poll, I can't remember but I probably voted for them at the time.

I did some investigating just to find out about the history of the custard cream - but there really wasn't anything much on the internet. Isn't that just so sad, I mean this biscuit looks posh, admit it, its been around for a long time and it must have been created for some purpose. I can just imagine a Victorian tea party with a few of these biscuits on the side of a rather elegant gold rimmed teacup saucer. I've always wanted to recreate these and I don't know why it took me so long, they're quick and easy and absolutely delicicous, with just the right amount of crunch. Addition of baroque pattern optional!

Ingredients for the biscuits:-

115g unsalted butter
75g castor sugar
175g all-purpose flour
8 tblsp custard powder
1tsp vanilla extract


75g unsalted butter
1tsp vanilla extract
150g icing sugar
3 tblsp custard powder
2 tblsp milk


Preheat the oven to 180C Gas Mark 4.

Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Fold in the flour, custard powder and vanilla essence until you have a dough that you can roll out. You will need to get stuck in and use your hands for this!

Flour a worktop surface and roll out your dough to a thickness of 1/2cm. Cut the dough into whatever shapes you want ensuring that you have an even number of each shapes. Custard creams are traditionally square but I just used a round cutter - it was either that or a heart shape, which probably isn't that appropriate!

Other brand baking trays are available..
Place your biscuits on a baking tray, I just greased the tray with butter and flour and then bake for 10 minutes until just before golden brown. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before transfering to a cooling rack.

To make the filling, cream the butter and vanilla together and gradually add the sugar and custard powder until you have something with the consistency of buttercream icing or frosting. Add milk and transfer to a piping bag, this is so much easier to make the sandwiches filling. When the biscuits are cool, gently sandwich them together, I started on the outside and worked in a swirl with the filling. This makes them neater when joined with the other half - presentation and all that!

Ready for my close-up..

Best enjoyed with a strong cup of tea! These absolutely went down a treat at work and I am rather pleased with them. I will definitely be making these again, I'm just not so sure I can actually eat the real custard creams now!

Why yes, I do like this plate thank you!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Vanilla and Rosewater Macarons (my first ever attempt)

Ahh, the mystery that is the macaroon or is it macaron?! Now, since the English word macaroon can also refer to the coconut macaroon many recipe books have adopted the French spelling of macaron to distinguish the two items in the English language. However, this has caused confusion over the correct spelling of the meringue-like biscuit.

Slightly cracked, but still lovely
Nonetheless, this delicacy is recognised by its smooth, domed top, ruffled layer (often referred to as the "foot"), and flat base. If you have 'feet' on your macaron, then you have the perfect macaron. It is mildly moist, crunchy on the exterior and easily melts in the mouth.

There are several ways of making these finicky little treats – the Italian version which involves some boiling of sugar until the right temperature which I just don't have the patience for, or the French version which incorporates some ‘folding’ for the right amount of times... I went with the french version.

I wanted to use a different flavour for the filling of the macarons, and rose water is just that, quite a very distinctive flavour and has been known to be used heavily in Iranian cuisine - especially in sweets such as nougat and baklava. In some parts of the continent rose water is sometimes used to flavour both marzipan and madeleines; a petite light French sponge cake.

This recipe is adapted from the Baking=Love foodblog I adore.

Ingredients for macarons:-

3 egg whites
50g white sugar
200g icing sugar
110g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract


Age(!) the eggs whites in a container either in the fridge for 24 - 48hrs in advance or heat gently in a microwave on a medium-low for bursts of 10 seconds or so, to get that 'aging'
process. This is to dry out the egg whites to prevent the mixture getting too wet as this can cause the cracks. Its supposed to make a huge difference apparently. I just put them in an oven for a few minutes to dry out.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, not like meringues just yet, but just foamy. Add the sugar gradually beating continuously till it gets glossy and shiny, like a meringue. Add the vanilla extract.

In a large separate bowl, mix together the icing sugar and ground almonds and sieve to remove all lumps, this will give the macarons that smooth texture. Umm, I don't have a sieve so I skipped this section, big mistake.

Macaronage stage:
Add half the almond/icing sugar mixture into the egg whites. Fold in gently for around 20-25 strokes. Add the rest of the almond/sugar mixture and vanilla and fold for another 20-25 strokes. So, I don't know, but apparently you only know when it's ready with experience but the mixture should look like lava and it should take no more than around 50 folds. I think I over did it, nevermind, I have learnt now.
Scoop mixture into a piping bag and pipe on to lined cookie trays into roughly 1 inch circles. Tap the trays on to the tabletop a couple of times to get the bubbles to come to the surface and pop them. Leave the trays of piped cookies to air for 30-60 minutes for the shells to form skins (this will help the cookies get the highly sought after feet).

Bake at 150 C or gas mark 3 for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely before piping buttercream and making into sandwiches. Put into an airtight container in the fridge overnight to mature before eating. Its supposed to improve the flavour and allow the macarons to absorb some moisture from the filling to get the perfect
chewy texture. But i couldn't wait that long.
150g Icing sugar
100g butter
2tblsp milk
1tsp rosewater
Food colouring


With the beater on medium, beat the butter and icing sugar until fluffy. Add food colouring to your desired pinkiness and add the milk. Further beat. Add the rosewater - not too much, this is quite strong!

Pipe onto a macaron shell carefully using a round tip and gently squish it down with a second shell. Enjoy!

Cracked, yet chewy and full of flavour, I'm still pleased with them!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Cupcakes

So, since I created this blog, I got all excited and couldn't wait to get started but then real life caught up with me and kept me busy. Plus this blogging is all a bit daunting, I mean, what do you start off with? I couldn’t think properly and then it came to me last week... I was craving peanut butter!

Now I love peanut butter, the crunchy version obviously; it reminds me of when I was younger when I used to have peanut butter and syrup sandwiches for my packed lunch at school.  Nowadays, I like to think I have advanced onto peanut butter and nutella on toast. And, since I love cupcakes just as much it’s a match made in heaven, well I think so anyway. They’re ever so easy to make as well…

I suppose I should say, I’m no professional baker, I just have a passion for getting stuck in the kitchen making cakes or biscuits. I've been casually baking since a teenager, but now I'm definitely going to do this more often! HA!

The key point for any baking is to use REAL butter, it does actually give a richer, creamier texture and that’s what’s really important.


For the cupcakes:-

115g butter
130g light brown sugar
3 eggs
200g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
60ml whole milk
60g white chocolate chips
2 tblsp crunchy peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 170C or gas mark 4. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.

Using a hand beater or if you are lucky enough to have an food mixer, beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy, the sugar will actually lighten. This takes about 4 minutes or so. Add the eggs, one at a time beating quite thoroughly after each addition.
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt and add half to the egg mixture. Beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pour in half the milk. Beat again until combined and repeat the flour and milk process. Add white chocolate chips and the peanut butter and using your spatula gently fold into the mixture.

Immediately, fill the cupcake liners – this mixture is enough to make 24 cupcakes.

Bake for about 20 minutes but check often. If you have a gas oven, you will need to turn the cupcakes around after 10 minutes to ensure evenly cooked and browned.

Remove from oven and place cupcakes on a wire rack to cool. Don’t leave them in the muffin tin as they will sweat and get soggy!

Ensure cupcakes are completely cooled before adding the icing.

The smell of hot peanut butter is just so enticing...

For the icing:-

250g icing sugar
125g butter
2 tblsp whole milk
1 tblsp peanut butter
White chocolate for decorating

With your hand mixer or food processor, cream butter and icing sugar until smooth. This will look more like a dough mixture than icing, but don’t worry. Add the milk 1tblsp at a time and peanut butter. If mixture still feels too stiff add some more milk. If you want to pipe the frosting, I usually use the largest star one, this gives a lovely swirl effect.

However, my piping bag decided to explode on me – so I had to make this mixture all over again and ice by hand, painstaking! Fear not, I shall soon be off to Lakeland to purchase a lovely new icing set, every cloud and all that…. J

Finish off with white chocolate chips or shavings and enjoy!

Finally got a use for my cakestand!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

I've got a new blog!

I've finally done it, I've got a great new blog of my own. Exciting times ahead...